Mark Your Calendar For The 31st Annual Ag Breakfast – Bruce Johnson’s News & Views

Plans are rapidly taking shape for the 31st annual Stephenson County Ag Breakfast, which will take place on Saturday June 25 at the Stephenson County Fairgrounds on the south edge of Freeport. This popular local tradition begins with the fabulous local foods breakfast served from 6-10 a.m. in the larger commercial building, with the east building filled with displays and activities including the ice cream and much more. Breakfast cost is just $5 with kids under 5 free.

We’ll once again sponsor a blood drive with Rock River Valley Blood Center from 6:30-10:30 a.m., with all donors being reimbursed for their breakfast and all first-time donors getting a free season pass to the Stephenson County Fair, compliments of the Farm Bureau. We also hope to bring back the silent auction with many quality items up for bids. The Young Leaders will have the animal display set up just outside the east door of the east building, and there will be numerous displays highlighting this year’s theme “Corn”. We’ll also have a Kiddie Pedal Pull in the east building with weigh-in starting at 9 a.m. and the pull starting at 9:30 a.m. with our newly upgraded tractor and sled!

Two new elements this year will include “Ask a Farmer”, where we’ll have local farmers ready to have a discussion with guests on topics of concern from animal care and antibiotics to GMO’s and environmental stewardship. We’ll also have the Young Leaders’ “Harvest for All” project set up at the entrance to the food line, where guests will receive a drawing ticket for every non-perishable food item donated that day. Guests can drop their completed ticket in the bucket at the Farm Bureau display, and we’ll have a drawing for a $100 gift card.

Make plans now to join your town and country friends and neighbors for a morning of great food, fun and fellowship at the Ag Breakfast on June 25 – see the flyer with complete details at and purchase your tickets in advance at the Farm Bureau office.

A new adventure

Andrea and I, along with her sister Kim, traveled to Starved Rock State Park near Utica on April 24 to participate in their Mega-Hike, a 13.4-mile hike over a dramatic array of terrain that passed near or through 18 canyons. It was my first hike and it put us through the paces as we traversed numerous streams, shuffled along ledges, and climbed up and down lots of hills. As the day got hotter and the crowds swelled tremendously on the trails, all but five of our 21-member group decided to call it quits after nearly five hours of hiking about 8 miles. We plan to do more hiking on our own at a more relaxed pace.

Sign up now for Hawkeye Ag Tour
The push is on to fill our bus for our June 9-10 Hawkeye Ag Tour, a fun and educational excursion to the west filled with great tours and highlights. We’ll be touring Lely Manufacturing and Vermeer Manufacturing in Pella Iowa on day one before our evening stay in Des Moines, where you’ll have your choice of attending an Iowa Cubs game or spending the evening at the Prairie Meadows Horse Racing Track and Casino. Day two includes stops at the Monsanto Learning Center, John Deere’s Des Moines Works (where they manufacture cotton harvesters, silage choppers, grain drills and tillage equipment), and the Kinze Innovations Center. This promises to be a great trip, but we need some more passengers soon to make it a go. We only have hotel rooms on hold until May 9, so give us a call today to get on board. Details can be found at or at the Farm Bureau office.

Planters are rolling!

The wheels have been turning furiously in most parts of the state as the weather finally cooperated for the full-scale start of planting season. Nearly one-third of the state’s corn crop went into the ground last week as favorable conditions emerged in most areas. The April 25 Illinois Crop Progress Report showed statewide corn progress at 42%, up from 12% last week and ahead of the 26% pace last year and the 25% five-year average. Bean planting is still a ways off, but I have heard of some beans already being planted in our area.

As always, I want to urge everyone to exercise extreme caution as you travel our rural roadways this spring. There is a high amount of agricultural equipment sharing the roads with vehicular traffic, and quite often the visibility and space can be compromised. Slow down, look around, and let’s stay safe this spring!

Go Cubs Go!

My exuberance for the new and improved Chicago Cubs can hardly be contained as they are off to a fantastic start to the 2016 season, currently sporting the best record in baseball. Even after losing slugger Kyle Schwarber to a season-ending injury, they continue to impress with solid play in all aspects of the game. I’m looking forward to multiple game excursions this year and hope that perhaps this is the year!

Bruce Johnson is the manager of the Stephenson County Farm Bureau.

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